With the 2017 World Orienteering Day on the horizon, it's time to look back on WOD's last edition, meeting Turkey and the amazing movement around the initiative. Coordinating the whole project in that country, Kadir Yildiz remembers the strongest moments of an exciting day.
“Think globally – Act locally”. On 11th May 2016, the first ever World Orienteering Day took place all over the world. It proved to be a great success, with 252.927 participants at 2013 locations in 81 countries and territories taking part in an orienteering event. Somewhat surprisingly, the biggest contribution for this outstanding number came from Turkey with 49.408 participants, just ahead of Sweden (35.754) and Norway (20.368).
When finalizing the official event calendar for the Turkish Orienteering Federation back in August 2015, WOD was set as one of the officially recognised orienteering activities. Then, the chair of the committee devoted to developing orienteering in schools, Kadir Yildiz, was appointed as the person in charge of the project. He remembers the first steps: “I was assigned for this project by the Turkish Orienteering Federation and every arrangement we did was based on the International Orienteering Federation and its documents/promotion kits for WOD. Then, we formed a group trying to reach all the sports clubs, athletes, coaches and teachers. We also took a good advantage of the internet, specially the social networking sites.”
A secret called team spirit
To overcome the language barrier, guidelines on how to register were developed in Turkish and distributed along with other material. Letters were written to all other Federations to raise awareness and ask for their involvement, as well as to the Ministry of Sports to ask not only for their support, but also their help in getting the Ministry of Education involved. The WOD website was closely monitored and any activity was advertised on the Federation’s Facebook page, thus creating an atmosphere of excitement throughout the country. Along the process, Kadir recognizes “the lack of financial resources and the accessibilities” as major difficulties. But, “if you know a thing or two about Event Management and Organization in Sport management, you are able to solve problems like planning, organization, coordination, communication, control and, most importantly, how to induce the right spirit in the team. Thus, we had a good, cooperating and hardworking team. Without it, the project would have failed”, he says.
- How did you manage the whole process?
“We managed it through the Turkish Orienteering Federation. The Federation gave us all all the means we needed, such as printed documents, flags, punchers, IT systems and so on. I think our strength lied on the fact that we were all volunteers and orienteering fans. This was really important to the whole process. All people worked voluntarily.”
“An exciting and colourful day”
The results of this hard and well-coordinated preparative process were a beautiful surprise, representing a good example of what one can manage while getting the support from the Federation, the government bodies and the local communities. Even Kadir recognizes that final numbers were not expected. “Clearly, I didn't expect such high participation level, but I believe that Orienteering is a sport that's easy to join”, he says.
- How was your 11th May? What did you feel?
“My 11th May was exciting and vivacious. We organized an event with our university students, attended by nearly 250 participants. It was an exciting and colourful day for us because, you know, Orienteering is fun and orienteers are enthusiastic.”
“2017 will be an Orienteering year in Turkey”
Nuri Dağdelen will coordinate the WOD 2017, but Kadir Yildiz will remain connected to the project. “We completed the WOD's organization successfully last year and this year I will only be participating with my university students.” But he leaves the door open to a more effective participation: “If the International Orienteering Federation or the Turkish Orienteering Federation asked for my collaboration, I would think about it”, Kadir says.
Kadir's expectations for the 2017 World Orienteering Day are even higher: “I believe that we can do well again. If people get involved and support the project, I think that we will set a new record of participants in Turkey”, he says. Kadir's last words stress the same point: “2017 will be an Orienteering year in Turkey and I believe that, with the collaboration of every person involved, we'll achieve something great.”
Photo courtesy of Kadir Yildiz.